It’s not often a group of diverse young people from right across the country comes together in the nation’s capital.

But that’s exactly what happened at the ABC’s 2024 Regional Youth Summit in Canberra.

Each of the Heywire competition winners who made the journey had already shared their incredible lived experience story with the world.

In Canberra, they connected over their love for living in rural, regional, and remote Australia.

But they also workshopped ways to improve the lives of young people living outside the big cities and came up with six inspiring ideas to address issues that matter to them.

These ideas are backed by real money thanks to our 12-year partnership with the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) and the generosity of their supporters.

Grants of up to $10,000 are available for communities across Australia to adopt, adapt and act on the ideas generated at the Heywire Summit.

Check out the six ideas developed by our 2024 Heywire winners.


Heywire 2024 winners (Left to right) Jacob, Prapti, Lexie, Lara and Scarlet.(ABC: Leah White)

How might we create more accessible transport options for young people in regional and rural communities?


Distance is something that unites us at Heywire. It’s a common theme and a barrier.

It prevents us from experiencing fun opportunities that our metropolitan peers get to enjoy.

For group member Laura, from Swan Reach in Victoria, it means missing out on activities with friends.

“I really love where I live but it takes about 20 minutes in the car to get from my place to town where I go to school, work, and where all of my friends live,” she said.

“I often feel like I’m missing out or even being excluded from my group for reasons I can’t help.”

Laura said the lack of transport means the only option for some young people living in the regions is to watch events — like their favourite band play — through social media posts.

For group member Scarlet from Bundaberg, a lack of public transport makes it hard for her to get to her local beach, which is where she goes to cope with her anxiety.

“If there was some sort of way for me to get there, it would have been a lot easier for me in my low times,” she said.


Bussin’ is a term used by Gen Z to mean something that’s really good.

But for us, Bussin’ is something much more than that.

It’s about providing regional Australia with a youth-designed public transport system.

The idea is to use buses that are sitting under-utilised in the garages of schools, charity groups, and sports clubs.

Young people would be trained as bus organisers, designing routes for the communities and working with bus owners and drivers to make them run.

Because kids know where kids want to go.


Want to know more about the inspiring Heywire winners behind this idea? Read their personal stories here:

  • Jacob from Tura Beach, NSW, Djiringanj Country.
  • Prapti from Port Lincoln, SA, Barngarla Country.
  • Lexie from Laverton, WA, Wongi Country.
  • Lara from Swan Reach, Victoria, Gunaikurnai Country.
  • Scarlet from Bundaberg, Queensland, Taribelang Bunda Country

MEE (Mentoring Educating Empowering)

Heywire winners (from left) Maya, Darcy, Enshella and Kimberly in Canberra for the 2024 ABC Regional Youth Summit.(ABC: Leah White)

How might we close the gap in accessing quality education for young people in regional, rural and remote communities?


Kimberly grew up in the remote town of Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley in WA. Since year 10, she’s been enrolled in the School of Isolated and Distance Education.

She said her teachers had encouraged anyone wanting to enrol in university or excel in their studies to complete high school via distance education.

“But schooling online isn’t easy,” Kimberly said.

“You’re constantly emailing and phoning teachers just to ask questions you wouldn’t have to in person.”

Kimberly said talking to friends at university who had gone to more metropolitan schools made her realise what she had missed out on.

“I was jealous that, because of my location, I could not access the same free resources and opportunities.”

Heywire winner Darcy grew up in Kununurra in WA before going to boarding school in Geraldton.

He said it was an experience that opened his eyes to the gap in the quality of education between his remote town and the regional city.


This is MEE. A mentoring, educating, and empowering program dedicated to closing the educational divide between city and rural students.

Regional and remote schools would be able to subscribe to the online mentoring platform for their students.

Once they have access, students would be linked up with mentors who provide personalised free tutoring and mentoring services. 

Mentors would be young, successful high school graduates from a diverse array of backgrounds.

They would be matched with students who have similar interests so that they could also provide career advice and guidance.


  • Maya from Sawtell, NSW, Gumbaynggirr Country
  • Darcy from Geraldton, WA, Yamatji Country
  • Enshella from Charters Towers, Queensland, Gudjal Country
  • Kimberly from Fitzroy Crossing, WA, Bunuba Country

A Place for You

Heywire winners (left to right) Lauren, Tobias, Kenneth and Solange in Canberra for the 2024 ABC Regional Youth Summit.(ABC: Leah White)

How might we improve accessibility to mental health services in remote and regional areas of Australia?


Heywire winner Lauren from Kerang in Victoria is the proud survivor of the mental illness anorexia nervosa.

She said her experience of trying to get help in a regional area was doctors telling her to “just eat”.

Lauren said even though she was told her heart was going to fail she wasn’t “skinny enough” to go to hospital.

She said there was little mental health support.

“You need immediate support and not a six-month waiting list for something that can save your life,” Lauren said.

“Without travelling to a city, my mum would have lost her only daughter.”

Kenneth from Burringurrah in Western Australia and Tobias from Katherine in the NT have also witnessed and experienced family, friends, and community members struggling with mental health with little to no support available.

“There’s a high suicide rate among remote populations, especially Indigenous people, youth, and men,” Tobias said.

“There is no mental health program in my community,” Kenneth said.


We want to tackle the issue of mental health problems and isolation in remote and regional Australia.

Our solution: A Place for You (APFY).

APFY is a youth mental health program based in remote and regional Australia.

The program would include activities that tackle mental wellbeing more holistically. This might look like trips fishing on Country, walk and talk sessions, dance workshops, arts and crafts, and guest speakers — all followed by a feed and a bonus check-in.

This program would be run by people with lived experience over the course of several weeks.

Through APFY we see a community where young people have a safe place to belong.

It’s a place where they can learn about the importance of wellness and have a voice.

Young people would be able to speak openly about their mental health issues without the stigma.

If you’re not OK, or feeling isolated, APFY could be a place for you!


  • Lauren from Kerang, Victoria, Baraba Baraba Country
  • Tobias from Katherine, NT, Dagoman, Jawoyn and Wardaman Country
  • Kenneth from Burringurrah, WA, Wajarri Country
  • Solange from Wodonga, Victoria, Wiradjuri, Waveroo and Dhudhuroa Country

The Bigger Picture

Heywire winners (left to right, back row) Rowen, Amelia, Eliott (left to right, front row) Eaknoor, Mike and Nada in Canberra for the 2024 ABC Regional Youth Summit.(ABC: Leah White)

How can we empower young people in regional towns to celebrate their differences and foster connection among themselves?


Eliott, 17, has always lived in the small rural town of Birchip in Victoria.

When he came out as transgender in 2019, he felt isolated.

“I was the black sheep,” he said. “Nobody understood me.”

“I wanted to tell my story but I never felt like I could.”

When Nada immigrated to Toowoomba in Queensland, after fleeing the Yazidi genocide in Iraq with her family, she felt disconnected.

“I could not speak any English,” she said. “I always wished there was a way to bridge this gap between me and my Australian peers.”

Mike is from the dusty plains of Broken Hill. They said they’ve always struggled with autism and felt severe disconnect from their school community.

“It made me feel excluded from my peers and I just wanted them to understand that, despite my differences, I’m as human as they are,” they said.


Diversity is something that’s present in all of us. Whether it’s through gender, culture, skill set, or anything that makes us unique.

The Bigger Picture is a community organisation that connects young people in regional towns.

Young people will be able to come together and celebrate their individuality by sharing stories, cultures, passions, and experiences.

This will help unite communities despite their differences and build stronger community connections.

Events could be held anywhere such as schools, parks, lakes, or wherever people can come together.

The Bigger Picture is a malleable framework that can be adopted and utilised in any community to meet the local needs of young people.

These connections are vital and help us celebrate our diversity.

Help us help our communities look at The Bigger Picture.


  • Eliott from Birchip, Victoria, Wotjobaluk Country
  • Rowen from Renmark, SA, Naralte Country
  • Nada from Toowoomba, Queensland, Jagera, Giabal and Jarowair Country
  • Mike from Broken Hill, NSW, Wilyakali Country
  • Eaknoor from Seymour, Victoria, Taungurung Country
  • Amelia from Bendigo, Victoria, Dja Dja Wurrung Country

Safe Sphere

Heywire winners (left to right) Rameez, Zarah, Sienna, Rebecca and Adam in Canberra for the 2024 ABC Regional Youth Summit.(ABC: Leah White)

How might we ensure that young people in regional and remote communities receive relevant and comprehensive sexual education?


Sex ed failed us.

For Adam from Ulladulla in NSW, their asexuality was treated as immaturity.

“I was taught that my identity was childish,” they said.

Rebecca from Cairns in north Queensland is one in nine women who suffers from endometriosis.

She said she had pain with no answers because she didn’t understand her own body.

Sienna from Albany, in Western Australia, said many women are taught by men what they can and can’t do with their bodies.

Zarah from Rockhampton in central Queensland said her last sexual education class was taught by her religious education teacher.

“Sex ed failed us,” she said.


We’ve developed Safe Sphere, offering a co-designed sex ed program.

Community groups can create a forum where young individuals can openly ask about topics left unanswered by traditional sex ed classes.

Once they know the burning questions young people want answers to, they can give them the right answers, or bring in experts or specialists who are better equipped to answer.

Then, tailored education sessions are delivered to the young participants, addressing their specific questions and concerns.

Safe Sphere operates on a cyclical model designed by young people and their communities.

First, organisations set up networks and forums for the young people. The young people then ask questions and raise concerns.

The organisations listen, learn and respond. The information then goes back to the young people.

Safe Sphere is also adaptable to each individual community, based on available infrastructure. It could be a website, app, or even something as simple as a letter drop system.

Sexual education isn’t just about STDs and contraception. Safe Sphere will make young people feel confident about their choices by educating them.


  • Rameez from Bathurst, NSW, Wiradjuri Country
  • Zarah from Rockhampton, Queensland, Darumbal Country
  • Sienna from Albany, WA, Menang Noongar Country
  • Rebecca from Cairns, Queensland, Gimuy Country
  • Adam from Ulladulla, NSW, Yuin Country

Youth 2 Grassroots

Heywire winners (left to right) Daniella, Naomi, Tyrone, Pelle, Shirlinda, Amy and Spedding in Canberra for the 2024 ABC Regional Youth Summit.(ABC: Leah White)

How might we promote a stronger connection between individuals and their land by fostering a culture of environmental protection and stewardship?


Tyrone lives in a remote community in Galiwin’ku/Elcho Island in the Northern Territory. After doing work experience as a ranger, he decided to become one and graduated last year.

He now works as a ranger, looking after the land and cleaning up rubbish from beaches.

“We rangers know to keep animals healthy and strong and look after the land and country,” he said.

A connection to Country and a love of the land is a common thread that connects the Youth 2 Grassroots group members.

From cattle and sheep farming, to recreational fly fishing, and hunting for jubul (witchetty grubs) and Tjupi (honey ants), we know where our food comes from.

But not everyone does.

And not everyone gets a hand in protecting and caring for the environment.

There’s a clear disconnect and we want people to connect.


Youth 2 Grassroots is a way to connect people back to place.

We propose two excursions over the course of a year where senior high school students spend a day on the land.

During the first visit, they may plant seeds for a crop, mark a lamb, or share a meal made with local produce.

They will learn and hear from local farmers, rangers, and elders to talk about the place and practices.

The farmer may share a problem and put it to the students to collaborate on a solution.

In the next season, they come back and see the change. The crops are harvested, the lambs are being shorn and they might get to eat the food that was planted last time.

Once is an excursion, twice builds a connection.

We want people to be more conscious of the land, where their food comes from, and why it’s important to look after the land.

Youth 2 Grassroots will help students connect to a place, see the change and be the change.


  • Daniella from Lismore, NSW, Bundjalung Country
  • Naomi from Ballarat, Victoria, Wadawurrung Country
  • Tyrone from Galiwin’ku/Elcho Island, NT, Yolŋu Country
  • Pelle from Lilydale, Tasmania, Palawa Country
  • Shirlinda from Alice Springs, NT, Arrente Country
  • Amy from Mount Isa, Queensland, Kalkadoon Country
  • Spedding from Adelong, NSW, Wiradjuri Country

There is $100,000 in funding available nationally, thanks to the generous support of The Sally Foundation, David MacTaggart Foundation, and private donors.

An additional $17,500 is also available specifically to fund projects in Queensland, thanks to a partnership with The John Villiers Trust.

Deb Samuels, FRRR’s people portfolio lead, said the foundation’s long-term partnership with the ABC has led to significant outcomes for young people and communities.

“Having run the Heywire Youth Innovation Grants program for 12 years, we have been lucky enough to witness the impact that these young leaders, their ideas, and the funded projects have had on rural Australia,” she said.

“It gives me hope for the future of rural Australia when I see young people working to tackle issues head on.”

Justin Stevens, the ABC’s director of news, said the FRRR ABC Heywire Youth Innovation Grants program empowered young people to turn their ideas into reality.

“The ideas generated at the ABC Heywire Summit are developed by young people in regional communities for young people,” he said.

“The grants that contribute to this help provide remote, rural, and regional communities a tangible means for encouraging the next generation of leaders to have a voice and act on issues that matter to them and their peers.”

To date, more than $1.5 million in community and philanthropic investment has helped to fund more than 190 projects in more than 142 communities.

Applications close at 5pm AEST on May 29 and recipients will be announced in August.